Ever get the feeling life is on a loop? Two grim stories dominated the weekend news, and both are so horribly familiar that one’s immediate response could almost border on the jaded. Firstly, across the Channel, English football’s flabbiest fans drank too much again, wrecked a corner of a foreign field again, and the team they purport to support are threatened with disqualification from a major tournament again. Secondly, across the pond, a crazed gunman slaughtered dozens of innocent people again; he seemingly carried out this atrocity because he disagrees with the sexual choices of those he targeted, though his apparent hardline Islamic beliefs mean that this massacre can be added to the ‘Muslim problem’ again, despite the fact that the Orlando incident was the 173rd mass shooting in America this year, most of which were bereft of an Islam element. So, yes, we have been here before.
A website called MassShootingTracker.org. states that the killing of four or more people by a gun in the US (including the assassin himself – and they are almost uniformly male) counts as a mass shooting; the fact that this qualification has been achieved 173 times already in a year that is only at its halfway point suggests America has something of a gun crime problem, though this has been evident for several decades. The Islamic angle attached to Saturday’s slaughter may have presented Donald Trump with gift-wrapped verbal ammunition, yet his call for President Obama to resign over his failure to tackle ‘the Muslim problem’ has an inherent irony he is clearly too dumb to appreciate.
For all his faults, Obama has at least tried to do something about America’s gun laws, yet every attempt has been blocked by the NRA lobbyists in the Republican-dominated Congress. For many Americans – including the majority of Trump supporters – the right to bear arms is as obsessive an issue as membership of the European Union is to some Brits. It is therefore convenient for them that the man responsible for the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 apparently took 50 innocent lives in the name of Allah. Clearly, he did it because he was a Muslim, not because he resides in a country where private gun ownership actually outnumbers the adult population, a country where it’s harder to buy a decent cup of tea than a firearm.
‘I’ve got people who we know have been on Isil websites living here in the United States,’ said Obama last week (before the Orlando incident), ‘but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit these people from buying a gun.’ Yet, every time the President attempts to curb the easy availability of weapons in the US, Republican NRA cheerleaders start carping on about the sanctity of the Second Amendment. There are, of course, many other countries where firearms can also be purchased with relative ease, yet none in the developed world can boast the body-count of the US. It would seem the right to bear arms simply facilitates a deeper craving in the American psyche. After all, for a country that was lauded as a break with Old World bloodshed and praised as a fresh start for civilisation when it finally achieved recognition as an independent nation in the 1780s, America has enjoyed a mere 21 years of peace since the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Founding Fathers.
There is undoubtedly a pattern where the perpetrators of mass shootings in the US are concerned. Most tend to be outsiders of some sort, rejected by their peers and harbouring a grudge over their inability to interact with or assimilate into a peer group. At one time, they would have retreated into a parallel universe manufactured by literature or cinema and would have honed in on one particular individual as symbolic of all they held responsible for their social isolation, whether John Lennon or Ronald Reagan; today, the internet is the comfort zone and the single assassination appears to have fallen out of favour.
In fact, Reagan was the last US President to be targeted by a gunman; these days, it is the mass rather than the individual that provides the bloody culmination of gradual withdrawal from society. One could argue this possibly reflects the democratisation of fame, that the rise of reality television, social media and citizen journalism have all served to elevate the ordinary Joe above the genuine achiever and therefore render him a more relevant target. Add the inbred American eye-for-an-eye mentality and it’s a combustible mix.
The alienation of the outsider does not necessarily equate with a desire to wipe out innocent lives by pulling a trigger, of course; many simply accept they will never belong and don’t automatically attribute responsibility for this to their peers or a particular social, sexual, racial or religious demographic. But when those that do have access to guns, it’s a disaster waiting to happen – though one doesn’t have to wait long in America. 173 and counting.
© The Editor
4 thoughts on “DEJA VOODOO”
I was reflecting just the other day about how systemically violent American culture is. The thing that struck me is that if you look at the “American myth” so to speak, it is not just rooted in rags to riches; it is more about guns. So take an innocent genre like the cowboy movies when I was a child. Essentially the theme is the same: bad men come to town, and kill some good men and terrorise the others; a reluctant stranger appears and eventually guns down all the bad men. Job done. Or the Indians kill the cowboys and the cavalry rides over the hill and kills them. Job done. Or examine any detective series of the 7O’s. It’s only a matter of moments before someone pulls a gun. We have Miss Marple.
What is the modern American myth? The Godfather, or Scarface (one of the most violent movies I have ever scene – it’s not my thing, really). Why is a matter we can debate. Certainly for large numbers of Americans the right to bear arms is a true article of faith – quite literally a religious matter. I am acquainted with a charming American woman on Facebook of Mexican or Costa Rican extraction. Lovely lady. Her view on these shootings is quite simple and genuine. Not enough people carry guns! If more did, the “perps” would be slotted by the good guys!
I am myself not convinced that ready access to high powered automatic assault weapons is a entirely a good idea.
Moving away from that, slightly, it is only a matter of time before IS get a container or so of these weapons into Europe, and when they do….problem. Big problem. We have already seen it. More is coming.
And a word for our poor beer belly wobbling hooligans. I have no doubt that there are quite a few of our boys who are less then socially adroit and are up for a bit of aggro, but this time I do feel we are getting a bad press. I have kept my ear quite close to the ground on this one. All our real hard cases have been grounded by plod; most of the fans out there are just Joe Public having a few beers. But from multiple reports I have seen and heard, and with comments from the French Police now, the Russians smack of military or paramilitary training and demeanour; seriously organised and very nasty. This is a very worrying matter; it smacks of some sort of state sponsored action. Putin does seem to love his paramilitaries. Is this a hint of things to come? And more, what they won’t report on the mainstream news, but I believe to be true, is that there have been instances of muslim gangs chanting anti western slogans attacking fans too.
My final take on this shooting is this: could it, in fact, change history? My first thought was: that’s Trump elected, then. My second was: that’s Vote Remain f****d too. Dish Face Dave says he’s mortified. I bet he is.
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I remember there was a period during the early 90s (brief, admittedly) when England fans embraced the zeitgeist and began choosing E over alcohol. The result was congas on the terraces and a ‘luv’d up’ ambience. The authorities naturally couldn’t condone ‘recreational drug use’, despite its evident benefits, so that was the end of that. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, has a recognised problem with hooliganism, infiltrated (as ours used to be) by the far right, as seen whenever Western European teams play club football behind the old Iron Curtain and any black players receive an earful of abuse. If there’s no trouble when England play the other teams in our group, I think the cause of the current fracas will be more apparent.
Even more so that Gildas, my first thought on the Orlando atrocity was “I wonder if Trump actually sponsored it ?” – not only will it harden the redneck voter-base, it may also bring along some of the gay vote, who may now agree that letting Islamists anywhere near gays is not a good plan, so a vote for Trump may help keep them out.
It looks like this time’s nutter was a lone-wolf, but it just goes to prove how much damage even a lone-wolf can do if he sets his unbalanced mind to it. Viewed from his perspective, it’s a double whammy – not only a gross act of ‘Islamic’ terrorism on the streets of the USA, but also a chance to eliminate some of those he regards as deviants, all the while on the way to his mythical 72 virgins – what’s not to like ? What heart I have goes out to all those entirely innocent folk, simply enjoying themselves, who became collateral damage in his defective vision – tragic.
Despite its vast population of privately-held weaponry, I’ve never felt at risk of being shot in America (although one particularly seedy motel in Arizona got close), just as I’ve never felt at risk in Switzerland, where every home keeps its National Service issue gun ready, just in case. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
The current problem in America seems to be a combination of unsettled individuals, unsettled for apparently different reasons, who use the ready availability of guns to make their bizarre points. Why they should be so unsettled, I don’t know, but perhaps that would be a more productive response area, rather than any futile attempt to curb gun availability. If you want a gun in gun-banned Britain, you can get one – you can even rent one by the day for a specific job – bans and restrictions don’t work and won’t work. The challenge is to address what makes some folk want to kill a whole load of other folk, many of whom they don’t even know, so can’t genuinely hate.
I can’t imagine killing folk under any circumstances, even those who vote Remain, I don’t even hate those enough !
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Football – surely it’s about time EUFA got a grip of this mess. Once again the thugs, the drunk and the ticketless try to steal the headlines from the football team. Is it not about time EUFA gave the thugs a competiton of their own to run parallel to the main football event and thereby alleviate the stress of just about everybody else on the planet? $ groups of four with a knockout compettion to the finals – that should do it!!
America – I give up. Arms for all and a nation at war with everybody for 100 years – can’t it nuke itself and leave the rest of us alone. I don’t want american news as the headlines on my tv in the uk all the bloody time!
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